A 50-year-old California man has been sentenced to four years of incarceration after he was found to be renting Orange County homes he didn't own to unsuspecting tenants. He accomplished this unusual feat by filing quitclaim deeds against the homes. The properties were "distressed," meaning some had been foreclosed and were bank-owned, but others were privately owned by people who did not currently occupy them.
The homes rented out were in Anaheim Hills, San Clemente and Dana Point. The judge in the case noted that the crimes were "retaliatory in nature" because the defendant lost a home to foreclosure in the past. The judge denied him probation because he thought the man showed no remorse adding that he believed himself to be a sort of champion of the people. The defendant had admitted to trying the same tactics on 70 other occasions.
The defendant initially faced charges of felony second-degree commercial burglary, but that charge was dismissed due to a deadlocked jury. He would have faced eight more months in custody had he been convicted of that charge. The man was convicted of a fraud charge for filing false or forged documents. His sentence was supposed to be served in prison, but prison overcrowding laws pushed the judge in the case to order that the sentence be served in jail instead. The deputy district attorney has filed an appeal for that ruling.
This man's case is a good example of why a solid defense team may be important. Had the defendant not had a defense team, it's possible that he could have had a felony conviction as well as a fraud charge conviction. White collar crimes like this one can carry heavy penalties, and a talented defense team is important for anyone facing charges.
Source: San Clemente Patch, "Bogus San Clemente Landlord Gets 4 Years", Penny Arévalo , December 13, 2013